Monday Mornings with Madison

The Most Underestimated, Undervalued and Needed Skill in Business – Part 1

Good Writing

What skill is the least venerated, most underrated and yet most essential skill in business today?  Is it the ability to speak clearly and connect with people?  No, although it is a vital skill and most people think the best leaders are those who can deliver a rousing, engaging speech.  Is it excellent resource management?  No, even though managers who can get the most productivity out of their team generally get the best bonuses.   Is it the ability to crunch numbers and data in order to maximize profitability?  No, but the number-crunchers definitely have the most power and control within most organizations.  Is it the ability to persuade and sell?  No, even though salespeople are treated like royalty at most companies.  Actually, the skill that is probably the most valuable for managers, leaders and business people at all levels in all industries is the ability to write well. Continue reading

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Managing Staff Vacations during the Dog Days of Summer

The temperature is anywhere between a sizzling 82 degrees and a scorching 102 degrees, from Montauk to Miami and from Dallas to Des Moines.  Kids are wrapping up their summer break from school.  Families are heading to the shore, water parks and lakes to cool off or up to the mountains to relax.  Adventure seekers are cruising, sailing and soaring to far-off destinations.  Vacations abound. Continue reading

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The Road to Employee Productivity is Paved with High Expectations

There are countless sayings about setting high expectations.  Aim high.  Shoot for the stars.  Raise the bar.  The belief is that the higher the expectations, the greater the results.  But is this actually true?  Can the expectations that we set for a person actually affect how well that person performs?  Has this been validated scientifically or is it just an old wives tale? Continue reading

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When a Company’s Brand Sends Mixed Signals – Part 2

Eliminating Mixed Messages with the Three Cs

In many ways, the brand is the Achilles heel of the corporate world.  As companies shift more and more to being all about brand meaning and brand image, the more vulnerable they are to attacks on image.  That is why it is increasingly critical for companies to protect every aspect of their brand, and work hard to avoid having any mixed messages about the company’s purpose and position.   That includes guiding – as much as is possible or practical – what the company’s own people say about the company.  This is a challenge for even the most successful businesses. Continue reading

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When a Company’s Brand Sends Mixed Signals – Part 1

A Mixed Message Mess

Every company, no matter its size or purpose, has a brand.  Regardless of whether the owners and leadership know what the brand is or what it stands for, the company brand exists.  In theory, a company’s brand speaks about its purpose, voice and values.  The brand reflects what the company does and does not do and how it wants to be viewed by the world.   In practice, it also reflects what others – customers, potential customers, vendors, investors, and the general public — think about it.  A brand reflects how the company is actually perceived by the world. Continue reading

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On Your Mark. Get Set. Start.

When a runner is getting ready to run a race – whether a sprint or a marathon — the runner typically has a routine or series of actions to prepare for that race.  There is, of course, a lot of conditioning leading up to race day.  A couple of hours before the start, a runner might pop a few Advil and drink a lot of water.  He might eat a hearty breakfast to provide the body with adequate fuel.  Then shortly before the start, he might check the laces on his running shoes.  He might also do a lot of stretching and warm-up exercises.  When the race is about to start, the runner will probably line up at the starting line, get into a running position, and listen for the countdown, whistle or buzzer that signals to go. Each of those actions work as tiny cues to get the body’s adrenaline pumping and prime the runner to go swiftly from inertia to movement. Continue reading

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Appetizing Alliances: The Ingredients of a Successful Partnership

There are similarities between creating a successful partnership and cooking a great dish. In order to create a meal that is a culinary success, a good chef starts with the right ingredients. Certain ingredients are essential. Without those, the dish will taste either wrong or bad. But it’s not just important to have the right ingredients. The quantity and quality of each ingredient also matters. Continue reading

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Redeeming Reputation in the Digital Realm – Part 2

A company’s reputation is its most important asset.  A person’s individual reputation is his or her most important possession.   Yet, most people and companies are entirely unaware of their online reputation.  While ignorance may be bliss in some things, it is incredibly risky to be ignorant of one’s online reputation.  Attention all business owners, managers and professionals:  what you don’t know about what others think of you can hurt you!  That is why there are now professionals – reputation management experts — who make a living helping people and companies monitor, protect, and (if necessary) redeem their online reputation. Continue reading

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Redeeming Reputation in the Digital Realm – Part 1

Some 2,300 years ago, Publilius Syrus (a writer of Latin) penned that “A good reputation is more valuable than money.”  About 2,000 years later, Ben Franklin said “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”  Recently, billionaire and investment guru Warren Buffet said essentially the same thing… “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”  For thousands of years, wise people have understood the importance of reputation.  Reputation is a fundamental instrument of social order, based upon distributed, spontaneous social control. A person’s reputation reflects the overriding opinion held by others about him, and a company’s reputation reflects the opinion held by most about the business or its products and services.  Once tarnished by bad behavior, a damaged reputation can have a profound impact on success and career. Continue reading

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Do Less: Eight Things to Give Up – Part 2

There are many things people know they should give up because it’s just plain bad for them.  Putting too much salt in food.  Smoking cigarettes.  Texting and driving.  Drinking alcoholic beverages in excess.  Getting sunburned often.  Then there are a number of things people do that they think are perfectly fine but it turns out they aren’t.  Chewing ice (which is bad for teeth).  Protecting clothes using mothballs (which are stuffed with pesticides that are toxic and are ingested when smelled).  Drinking skim milk instead of full-fat milk (which is fortified with powdered milk that oxidizes cholesterol and causes plaque buildup in arteries and increases the chance of a heart attack).  Using a computer for more than three continuous hours a day (because it causes carpel tunnel syndrome, impacts posture, strains eyes, and – because of being increasingly sedentary – increases the propensity for heart disease). Continue reading

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